Decent Films Mail > Mailbag #10

Re: The Express (2008)

I ran across a review of The Express on the Internet (found via Rotten Tomatoes) that says the racism depicted toward Ernie Davis in the movie is not accurate to his actual experiences. Also the review points out that the Syracuse–WVU game shown in the film was actually played at Syracuse, not WVU. I would be interested in your comments. My friend I were originally going to see The Express on Monday, but based on the review linked above we have decided to see City of Ember instead.

As my review notes, the film’s relocation of the WVU game from Syracuse to West Virginia is clearly for the sake of heightening the racism theme. I can understand WVU fans taking umbrage, although I’m not sure who is in a position to say how unfair the depiction is. (For what it’s worth, WVU did have an all-white team at that point.)

I can’t say I find it persuasive to argue, as the review you mention does, that because Davis wasn’t one to complain about how he might have been treated, the film’s depiction of the racism he suffered must be speculative. I haven’t read the Davis biography the film is partially based on; the critic in question makes a point of noting that he saw Davis play, but doesn’t mention whether he read the book either. In any case, the possibility that evidence of racist resistance might hinge on testimony other than Ernie’s own, or that Ernie himself might have spoken about such incidents without “complaining,” does not seem particularly remote.

I warmly recommend The Express. I haven’t yet reviewed City of Ember, but the short version is that for a kid flick that isn’t actually very good, it’s kind of cool.

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